The One Where I Aggroed Three Reapers: Playing Subnautica

Jade Roth, Entertainment Editor

If you’ve never heard of Unknown Worlds Entertainment (a fitting name for the company when you look at its recent game series), I would recommend checking out a lovely horror game: Subnautica. It’s a stunning game, which can switch from “beautiful surroundings I’m glad to be a part of” to “I need an extra change of pants and a hug” on a coin flip. The game is good for giving its fans newfound fears of the ocean; that much I can say for sure.

Subnautica takes place on an alien planet named 4546B, a “land” (or, well, gigantic body of water) full of unknown creatures. Some are safe to be around, most want to kill you, and they all impact your gameplay in some way. As a survival exploration game, the game is all about surveying your surroundings to find ways to stay alive and improving your quality of life. 

Having said that, exploration is very dangerous, and the further you get out from your starting point, the more danger you’ll encounter.

I am usually cautious in Subnautica: I don’t want to die (even though, from a game play standpoint, dying has one of the nicest setbacks I’ve seen in a survival series), so I play very safely. However, on this occasion, I decided that I would go adventuring. I did a bit of an internet search and found a map of the game’s land. After going to a landmark (the floating islands), I made a disastrous mistake, though.

I wanted to go to the Dunes, which would be to the right of the floating islands. I made a left, taking me into the Crag Field. Since I somehow thought I was in the Dunes, I continued through the Crag field and went into the Crash Zone.

Oh, yes, I went into the Crash zone.

The Aurora Crash zone is a minefield (metaphorically). If you’ve seen any content about the Crash zone, you’ll probably immediately cringe at the fact that I went in there unprepared. I didn’t even know I was in the Crash zone, either! I thought I was in the Dunes! Granted, the Dunes are dangerous as well, but I was keen on staying on the edge of said biome. Unfortunately for me, I never looked to my left, so instead of being on the edge of the Crash zone, I was directly in the middle of it.

That’s when I saw it: the mighty Reaper Leviathan.

Reaper Leviathans are 55 meters long, which translates into a length of 180 feet. To put that into perspective, that’s half the length of a football field (which is 360 feet), around ten times the size of the average car, and definitely bigger than your tiny human body.

Although curiosity was getting the best of me, I managed to fight off the urge to interact with such a creature–especially when I went closer to the creature’s last known location (literally right in front of me, barely outside of my murky vision), and the beast was gone. Deciding that I no longer wanted to partake in this thing’s game of deadly marco-polo, I turned to leave, expecting to face the biome’s edge. Instead, I was faced with a sizable bit of machinery.

“I’m not in the Dunes, am I?”

I hadn’t even finished that thought when the hulking behemoth of a leviathan snuck up behind me, grabbed my minuscule Seamoth, and throttled it in between its massive jaws, scaring me so badly that I literally jumped in my seating and began dry-sobbing. I was too busy crying (and also didn’t know I was supposed to do anything) to get out of my Seamoth, so the Reaper inflicted a massive amount of damage to it. Finally, I pressed the only button that would work and left the Seamoth, making my worst fears come true as the Reaper targeted me instead. Fortunately, the Reaper had to adjust itself to attack me, giving me precious time to get back in my Seamoth and attempt to scamper off.

Running away really didn’t take me far, as I got caught by a Reaper again, this time escaping its clutches almost immediately. I got back into my now-ruined Seamoth and drove off, managing to get to the nearby Kelp Forests. I figured that I was safe; surely the Reapers wouldn’t follow me into kelp-y waters. Little did I know, the usually safe forest biome wasn’t out of the Crash zone, and instead heralded the location of yet another Reaper. As I entered the biome, I relaxed, not realizing the silent horrors following me. I was startled as the bright red jaws of futility clutched my beloved machine. I jumped ship just as my Seamoth exploded, and the last I saw of the Reaper Leviathan was it turning around.

I swam 1,000 meters back to my life pod, the entire time not daring to look back for fear of slowing down. I didn’t stop moving until I was cutscene-d into my den of safety, and only then did I allow myself to take a break. I saved the game and quit to the menu, having decided that I should get some much-needed sleep (and mentally distance myself from what just happened).

So what did I learn from all of this? I realized that I’m incompetent at reading maps, awful at checking my surroundings. I know now that Reaper leviathans are absolutely terrifying, and no matter how much “courageous” adrenaline stupidity pumps through my blood, they’re still the stuff of absolute nightmares.

All in all, a typical day of Subnautica.